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David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Shoe recommendations other than Montrail Vitesse? on 07/21/2005 06:23:55 MDT Print View

When I started backpacking 2 years ago, I knew absolutely nothing and the sales guy told me I needed this big heavy boots... which I dutifully paid $275 for. Ouch.

Now that I'm learning more and getting lightweight, I want to switch to shoes. I see the Montrail Vitesse shoes in so many gear lists and it was also nominated for a Lightittude award.

However, no one in my home town sells this shoe. I can only get the Montrail Hardrock here. There are also a lot of Salomon and Merrell shoes to choose from. And I imagine the running shoe stores sell one or two New Balance trail runners.

Can anyone recommend anything other than the Vitesse? Why is it recommended so often? As a distance runner, I always thought that shoes were more of a personal thing... i.e. you have to get a shoe that's good for your bio-mechanics... making shoe recomendations pointless. I'm guessing bio-mechanics are not as important to consider when buying trail shoes because they are built up so much? Also, what features should I look for? I don't like the idea of getting a soaker with shoes on (my boots have gore-tex and never get wet)... but would a gore-tex lined shoe be too hot/sweaty? Is it better to have a shoe the *will* get wet but ventilate / dry out fast? And wouldn't a highly ventilated shoe be cold in the morning? Also, some shoes have ankle roll prevention of some kind right? And is there a difference between hiking shoes and trail running shoes? I'm guessing that if it's called a hiking shoe, it's essentially just a heavy hiking boot with a low cut... and what I really want to look at are probably trail running shoes.

Anyway, sorry, that's a lot of questions! Bottom line, if anyone has recommendations other than the Vitesse, I'm all ears. And if you care to address any of my questions above, bonus! :)

Edited by davidlewis on 07/21/2005 06:27:19 MDT.

Mike Kirby
(Strider518) - F

Locale: Whatcom County
Re: Shoe recommendations other than Montrail Vitesse? on 07/21/2005 07:37:50 MDT Print View

The most important thing about choosing a 'tennis shoe' or 'trail running shoe' for backpacking is how well it fits your feet. Don't get hung up on a particular brand or model--try on lots of shoes until you get the fit you need. I use an Addida trail running type shoe. Also, shoe styles and how they fit change every model year. The 2005 Addida does not fit me. I buy older models, new in box, from Ebay.I have not experienced cold feet in the morning, even with low cut socks. I use smartwool or equivlant socks. It is important to condtion your ankles and knees for backpacking in tennis shoes, so train with the shoes you will be using in the backcountry. If you have strong ankles, good balance, and are not clumsy, shoes ought to work just fine. You may consider using a pole for more support, too. Hope this helps.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Re: Shoe recommendations other than Montrail Vitesse? on 07/21/2005 07:47:18 MDT Print View

"Don't get hung up on a particular brand or model--try on lots of shoes until you get the fit you need."

That's what I figured! But I see the Vitesse in so many gear lists... I was wondering what made them so popular? Being 26 oz. can't be it as there are plenty of shoes in that weight range.

I was also wondering about the idea of my hiking shoes doubling as water shoes. There is lots of water where I hike... and I carry Teva's when I need to / want to hike in a creek... but that means having to have two pairs of footwear. It would be neat to use something like the Soloman Tech Amphibian for double duty (hiking and wading)... but I'm guessing they would not offer enough support for hiking.

Edited by davidlewis on 07/21/2005 07:48:26 MDT.

Mike Kirby
(Strider518) - F

Locale: Whatcom County
Re: Re: Re: Shoe recommendations other than Montrail Vitesse? on 07/21/2005 08:16:09 MDT Print View

Regarding stream crossings; you can take off your socks and remove the insoles before crossing the stream, walk for awhile, squish out the water, and then put the socks back on and reinsert the insoles. I suggest trying this process while training to see if you like this idea or not. Tevas are very heavy; they weigh as much as a shoe alomst. I suggest looking for a pair of ' Chee-pas ', a K-Mart or Wal-Mart knock off of Tevas. Take your scale into the store and weigh them before you buy them. My wife has a pair that weigh 12 ounces. Otherwise flip flops may suffice.

Michael Schurr
(mrschurr) - F

Locale: SW US
Re: Shoe recommendations other than Montrail Vitesse? on 07/21/2005 10:27:37 MDT Print View

As they say, if the shoe fits, wear it. I have not had a blister for as long as I can remember. The NB 806AT which is now 807 is the standard starting point.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Shoe recommendations other than Montrail Vitesse? on 07/21/2005 10:45:20 MDT Print View

I too prefer NB. I find my older NB805's superb.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: Hiking and Wading in same shoe on 07/21/2005 10:50:31 MDT Print View

FYI, I was wearing my northface vapor lights with a pair of smartwool "no-show" ankle sock in copenhagen, DK. We were on a walking tour when the sky just let fly with torrents of rain. On the way back to the hotel, as soon as I pulled my foot out of a puddle they at least "felt" dry due to the socks and the "openess" (read ability to flow water out) of the shoe.

I know of at least one friend who uses a pair of teva shoes (not the sandals) for hiking and loves the fact that his feet dry out real quick when he's wearing the right socks. In his words "My feet always sweat, so moisture management rather than water resistance is far more important for me"

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Thanks on 07/21/2005 10:59:19 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments!

With regards to the water thing... there are two issues really... 1) unintended soakers when crossing a creek on stepping stones and 2) intentially wading into a creek say to walk upsteam to a waterfall on a day hike... or to walk your kayak out from the beech... etc.

For soakers... I'm leaning towards a shoe that will let water in but drain and dry fast. Gore-Tex shoes would probably be heavier, hotter, etc... and really... with a low cut shoe... it's not giving you much protection anyway. Anything more than 2 inches of water and you're gonna get soaked either way!

For wading, this is where I was wondering if I could use one shoe for both hiking and wading. Something like the Solomon Tech Amphibian. But I'm thinking it would not have enough support for hiking. So I guess I need some trail runners for hiking and a hopefully fairly light sandel for the water... maybe the Keen thongs... I think they are 14 oz/pair. Not too bad.

Anyway... thanks again. I'm off for an afternoon of shoe shopping :) Fun :P

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Thanks on 07/21/2005 11:06:32 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments!

With regards to the water thing... there are two issues really... 1) unintended soakers when crossing a creek on stepping stones and 2) intentially wading into a creek say to walk upsteam to a waterfall on a day hike... or to walk your kayak out from the beech... etc.

For soakers... I'm leaning towards a shoe that will let water in but drain and dry fast. Gore-Tex shoes would probably be heavier, hotter, etc... and really... with a low cut shoe... it's not giving you much protection anyway. Anything more than 2 inches of water and you're gonna get soaked either way!

For wading, this is where I was wondering if I could use one shoe for both hiking and wading. Something like the Solomon Tech Amphibian. But I'm thinking it would not have enough support for hiking. So I guess I need some trail runners for hiking and a hopefully fairly light sandel for the water... maybe the Keen thongs... I think they are 14 oz/pair. Not too bad.

Anyway... thanks again. I'm off for an afternoon of shoe shopping :) Fun :P

Dane Burke
(Dane) - F

Locale: Western Washington
shoes on 07/21/2005 11:23:37 MDT Print View

After a river crossing my gore-tex lined boots don't dry out until I return home from my trip. Atleast with my boots and the conditions I hike in, gore-tex in shoes does exactly the opposite of what it is supposed to do.

After realizing that, I chose to get the lightest and most well ventilated trail runners I could, so I bought the Montrail Masai shoes. They were so airy they felt like I was wearing sandals, I loved it. The problem was they had too much "arch support" for my foot and it ended up putting extra pressure on my arch. Seems that most the Montrails fit that way, so I have to find some new trail runners as well.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Shoe recommendations other than Montrail Vitesse? on 07/21/2005 11:37:31 MDT Print View

Lots of brands work.

I think one of the reasons Montrail is so popular is that, on the average, more people can get a decent fit from the lasts Montrail uses. People also have a lot of brand loyalty to footwear that works, and once people find something that works for them they seldom are willing to experiment further.

I've had good experiences with Garmont, Lowa, New Balance, Hi-Tec, and Montrail. My major gripe has been that the plastic heel reinforcement on New Balance trail shoes (this happened to me with a pair of 806ATs) broke, leaving a two jagged pieces of plastic to gouge my heel. Several other people of my acquaintance have had similar failures. But the NBs fit very well and work so well up to that point that they are still well worth considering. With Lowas I seem to be very slightly more prone to rolling my ankles.

I've had less positive experience with Salomon, Merrell, and Nike. With Salomon I think it has more to do with the last just not working with my feet. Similarly with Nike. I think Merrell fits me best of all, but the shoes have consistently failed within very short times (around a hundred or hundred-fifty miles of walking).

Swapping out the existing insoles for Superfeet or something similar makes a big difference for me, especially with respect to ankle-rolling and knee problems. Make sure you try the shoes on with Superfeet.

I used to just hike with Smartwool Light Hikers, but now I use a bigger variety -- some of the low-top Smartwool Socks, the Injiji Tetratsok, and a neoprene sock (either Sealskinz or the Campmor Super Sock) for really wet or snowy conditions. I'm also really agressive about retiring socks when they develop holes or are starting to get thin. One big problem with low-top socks (for me) is that they are harder to hang on your pack to dry them out -- well, you can still hang them, but the odds of them being there at the end of a long day aren't quite as high.

Keeping your feet warm is as much a matter as there being plentiful room to ensure adquate circulation as any insulating layers. Generally I like walking shoes with lots of ventilation. The downside of this is that one dusty trails your feet will be tattooed with dirt.

You need a willingness to experiment with footwear, I think. Your feet are going to change with time, and what worked last year is a good starting point, but might not work this year. Companies change their lasts from year to year, and seem to be doing so more frequently now than when they used to. Secondly, you shouldn't get particularly attached to one pair of shoes -- for me, it is a rare pair that lasted more than 350 miles.

Using heavier hiking boots, I rarely got more than 300 or so miles without a resole anyway, and my boots never, ever, fit as well after a resole than before.

As for wet feet and cold feet... If it is hopelessly, continuously cold and wet neoprene socks are the way to go. That doesn't just apply to trail runners either -- they are awesome for ski trips and mountaineering too. For normal creek crossings and wet brushy trails I just let my feet dry out. It rarely takes more than twenty minutes of walking before my feet are reasonably dry again.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Made my choice on 07/21/2005 17:36:49 MDT Print View

I was debating back and forth about getting a trail runner or a hiking shoe. The hiking shoes I tried did not seem much heavier and were a fair bit stiffer / thicker in the sole... but in the end I went for the super comfy and light Salomon XA Pro 3D. They are extremely breathable... super light... and have relatively good tortional stability due to the full length carbon fiber post and heal cup. I also like the quick laces... easier to loosen then up a bit if your feet swell. The manufacturer says they are 13.5 oz. per shoe... so about 27 oz. Not bad at all.

For the water, I got a pair of Holey Soles clogs with heal straps. They're a little bulkier than flip flops, but they weigh almost nothing (about the same as a flip flop... or maybe less) and are a million times more comfortable than flip flops. I can't stand that thong between my toes on flip flops. I'm more excited about these things than my new shoes!!!! I would guess these weigh about 5 oz... and they float! :)

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Made my choice on 07/21/2005 17:53:27 MDT Print View

I was debating back and forth about getting a trail runner or a hiking shoe. The hiking shoes I tried did not seem much heavier and were a fair bit stiffer / thicker in the sole... but in the end I went for the super comfy and light Salomon XA Pro 3D. They are extremely breathable... super light... and have relatively good tortional stability due to the full length carbon fiber post and heal cup. I also like the quick laces... easier to loosen then up a bit if your feet swell. The manufacturer says they are 13.5 oz. per shoe... so about 27 oz. Not bad at all.

For the water, I got a pair of Holey Soles clogs with heal straps. They're a little bulkier than flip flops, but they weigh almost nothing (about the same as a flip flop... or maybe less) and are a million times more comfortable than flip flops. I can't stand that thong between my toes on flip flops. I'm more excited about these things than my new shoes!!!! I would guess these weigh about 5 oz... and they float! :)

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Made my choice on 07/22/2005 01:49:12 MDT Print View

Sounds like you made some good choices.

Until recently I would have echoed your words regarding flip-flops/thongs. Tried many (shower shoes in the military, nice leather ones, cheaper one, etc). Hated the "thong". Got a cheap pr. fr/LLBean. Nothing but foam for the bottom. The strap was made of flat nylon webbing. So what made them diff? The "thong" part was very soft and flexible rolled nylon. Very comfortable. If only something with a nice padded leather sole had such nice "thong". For extended use, the soles of the flip-flops (even thought my heels rise with each step) causes the soles of my feet to sweat a bit. The thong is great though. Not that you would want to wear them hiking by any means.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Re: Made my choice on 07/22/2005 06:24:41 MDT Print View

Thanks for the flip flop tip Paul :) I would like something that packs smaller than the clogs.

Can you get Holey Soles clogs in the USA by the way? Just wondering if people here have seen / tried them. They are amazing. Bulky... but pretty amazing that something that light can be that comfortable and functional.

Verndal Lee
(JAGC) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Holey Soles on 07/22/2005 08:54:59 MDT Print View

If anyone is interested, you can get Holey Soles at www.liteshoes.com

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Holey Soles weight on 07/22/2005 11:09:02 MDT Print View

I just bought a postal scale today that measures in 1 gram increments. My Holey Soles (size medium) weigh 248 grams / 8.75 oz for the pair.

Edited by davidlewis on 07/22/2005 11:10:15 MDT.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: Importance of Fit on 07/22/2005 13:47:59 MDT Print View

David Bronn Wrote:
"I think one of the reasons Montrail is so popular is that, on the average, more people can get a decent fit from the lasts Montrail uses. People also have a lot of brand loyalty to footwear that works, and once people find something that works for them they seldom are willing to experiment further.

I've had good experiences with Garmont, Lowa, New Balance, Hi-Tec, and Montrail. Several other people of my acquaintance have had similar failures. But the NBs fit very well

I've had less positive experience with Salomon, Merrell, and Nike. With Salomon I think it has more to do with the last just not working with my feet. Similarly with Nike.."

fit is the exact reason I love Nike and TNF, to this point I've foudn no other shoes who's last fit my feet as well.

James Hemphill
(jhemp_00) - F
Dunham on 07/22/2005 16:31:53 MDT Print View

I would take a look at Dunham boots www.dunhamfits.com.thier owned by New Balance. They come in 4 different widths to fit all kinds of feet. I Have always had poor fitting boots until I tried a dunham boot in Narrow width. What a difference it made. They have a big line of boots from light weight fast packing to heavy weight pack boot. Anyways- give them a try, I'm sold!

James Hemphill
(jhemp_00) - F
Dunham on 07/22/2005 16:33:55 MDT Print View

I would take a look at Dunham boots www.dunhamfits.com.thier owned by New Balance. They come in 4 different widths to fit all kinds of feet. I Have always had poor fitting boots until I tried a dunham boot in Narrow width. What a difference it made. They have a big line of boots from light weight fast packing to heavy weight pack boot. Anyways- give them a try, I'm sold!